Ever wonder about a boxed mix you've seen in the store? Is it any good? Could it replace something you'd otherwise make from scratch? Welcome to Mixed Review, where the whole point is putting boxed mixes to the test! —The Mgmt.


[Photos: Lucy Baker]

Betty Crocker recently upped the ante on supermarket baking mixes by introducing a line of "Supreme Bars," including a cookie-brownie bar, a lemon bar, and a Mississippi mud bar. Of the three versions, the Mississippi mud struck me as the most enticing: a chocolate cookie crust topped with a gooey brownie layer studded with mini-marshmallows.

But would the bars really be supremely delicious, or would they retain that from-a-box flavor? I put them to the test for this week's Mixed Review.


I was pleased to note that the Missisippi mud bars called for the addition of melted butter (4 tablespoons for the crust and 4 tablespoons for the brownie batter, to be exact). Most supermarket mixes call for vegetable or canola oil, presumably because it's quicker and easier to work with, but the flavor is never the same.

To prepare the crust, I combined the packet of cookie crumbs with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter in a small bowl. Per the instructions, I reserved 1/4 cup of the mixture and spread the rest in the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking pan. Unfortunately, the crumbs were a little sparse. I smoothed them out as best I could but there were still a few holes and thin patches, especially around the corners.

To make the filling, I stirred together the packet of brownie mix (which contained the mini-marshmallows) with one egg, 3 tablespoons of water, and the remaining 4 tablespoons of melted butter. I spread the batter in the pan over the crust, and then sprinkled the top with the remaining 1/4 cup of cookie crumbs. After 35 minutes in a 325° oven, my mud bars were done.

The Taste-Test

They cut cleanly and came out of the pan without any crumbling or tearing, but they were much too thin--even the middle one was only about 1/2-inch thick. I like my brownies and bars fudgy and dense for sure, but they have to have a little heft to them as well. Otherwise they're a bit like chocolate pancakes.

Time for the flavor test. The cookie crust wasn't quite crisp, but it tasted like Oreo crumbs mixed with butter, so I wasn't complaining. The brownie layer was moist and pleasantly cocoa-y, but it didn't pack a huge flavor punch. While the pockets of sticky-sweet marshmallow were a delicious touch, overall it tasted pretty much like regular Betty Crocker brownie mix.

In the end, I would recommend this mix for busy parents baking with kids. The mud bars are a nice alternative to plain brownies, and little ones are will love the marshmallows and cookie crumbs. They are also perfect for the holidays (I'm sure Santa would appreciate one with a glass of milk!) or for whipping up on an unexpected snow day from school.


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